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The Last Word

The Last Word

Even during the first semester of college, your mind may wander to the end: a silky black robe, an awkward cap, a sealed diploma. But despite its significance, the graduation ceremony can be, well, a little boring. To keep the commencement speech from being just one more lecture, colleges often call upon celebrities to deliver parting thoughts.

The 2010 commencement speaker lineup included journalists, entrepreneurs, musicians, actors and politicians. With such a vibrant group, you can expect more than clichés and cue cards. Marcia Gay Harden’s four-act address to the University of Texas included a themed orchestral soundtrack. Patti LaBelle belted “I Believe” to Temple University. Even Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger turned stand-up comic at the University of Southern California.

The common favor for the commencement star? An honorary diploma. NYU awarded Alec Baldwin a doctorate following his charge to the graduates of Tisch School of the Arts. Grammy winner Wyclef Jean was bestowed an honorary doctorate from Western Connecticut State University. Meryl Streep also accepted a degree from Harvard, though she spoke to the graduates of Barnard College.

From President Obama to Mythbuster Jamie Hyneman, the personalities at this year’s graduation podiums were as varied as their vocations. But after all of the anecdotes and proverbs were recited, a common theme emerged: good old-fashioned blood, sweat and tears. As Katie Couric said: “Work hard. There is just no way around it. Hard work is the answer.”

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